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EPA Revises Data for Boyertown Farms Site

Release Date: 5/11/1999
Contact Information: Carrie Deitzel, (215) 814-5525

PHILADELPHIA - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has resolved a discrepancy in some of the sampling data from the Boyertown Farms site in Montgomery County.

During a May 4 press briefing, the EPA shared data from environmental sampling done March 23-24 on and near the Cabot Performance Materials plant. EPA and Cabot split some of the samples collected at the plant and had them analyzed by two separate labs for fluoride and nitrate. Test results for soil and sediments varied widely.

While the sampling and analyses were done correctly, the EPA has discovered that EPA’s contract laboratory reported the data for fluoride and nitrate in the wrong unit of measurement -- parts per million instead of parts per billion -- making the contaminant levels appear to be higher than they actually are. This same reporting error was made for fluoride and nitrate in soil, sediment and crop samples taken at nearby farms and other locations.

There were no reporting errors for fluoride or nitrate in surface water, groundwater or residential wells.

With the discovery of the reporting errors, the actual levels of fluoride and nitrate appear to be within the normal range of concentrations for soil, sediment and crops. However, the EPA will continue to confer with agricultural experts to confirm this conclusion.

The EPA is also consulting with agricultural experts to develop a sampling plan to be used in its ongoing investigation. As reported last week, the investigation will include additional sampling for fluoride concentrations.